Opinion

A pioneer remembered

Amaresh Samantaraya | Updated on March 12, 2018


The sad demise of Prof K. Krishnamurty on November 23, 2011, is a great loss to his friends, former colleagues, researchers and the student community. But amongst all, perhaps, the biggest loser is the Indian Econometric Society (TIES), for which he was a mentor and constant source of guidance. Prof Krishamurty was a pioneer in the tradition of macro-econometric model-building. He started his illustrious journey in this field, in the early 1960s, under the guidance of one of the great masters in this trade — Professor Lawrence R. Klein.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENTS

In an environment that was not-so-encouraging for research on Tinbergen-Klein-type macro-econometric models for India, he was one among a handful of researchers, who joined the stream despite heavy odds and low returns. His Ph.D. dissertation entitled An Econometric Model of India, 1948-61,submitted to the University of Pennsylvania in 1964, was his first contribution in the series. Subsequently, his notable contributions to macro-econometric model-building, both solo and in collaboration with some other eminent researchers in the field such as Professors V. Pandit, P. D. Sharma, T. Palanivel, K. S. Krishnaswamy and D. U. Sastry, enriched this line of research. He was instrumental, along with Professor Pandit, in setting up an IEG-DSE model in the early 1990s, which envisaged launching macro-econometric modelling for India on a sustained basis, to aid informed policy decisions. Subsequent to his superannuation from the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), New Delhi, in 1999, he joined Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad, as NLC Chair Professor. All the while, he continued as a mentor for many young econometricians.

He was a regular participant in annual conferences of TIES. In all such deliberations, his caution and guarded criticism to not overuse (or misuse) the techniques of econometrics was fascinating. The need for this cannot be overemphasised in the present-day use of econometrics, where easy access to econometric software has led to numerous research papers, where the authors often aren't fully aware of the limitations of the tools and draw up far-reaching conclusions.

MEMORABLE OCCASIONS

I was fortunate to interact with Prof. Krishnamurty on several occasions, and, perhaps, the first will be memorable. I first met him in ASCI, when Dr C. Rangarajan (who I was then assisting on deputation from RBI) advised me to discuss some econometric work. I remember his friendly smile, unassuming gesture, offering coffee while I was a little nervous to meet somebody I had admired for such a long time. Nevertheless, his critical feedback on our estimations wasn't that friendly. His role as a conscience keeper to many young econometricians will be missed. On November 9, 2011, he consented to visit Pondicherry University for the forthcoming 48{+t}{+h} Annual TIES Conference. We did not know that destiny would prevent him from keeping his promise.

However, fellow econometricians should remember his concluding remarks as part of the presidential address in the 37{+t}{+h} TIES Annual Conference held in South Gujarat University, Surat, on April 13, 2001: “It has been a long and stressful march over many years… The model-builders must keep pace with these changes and advances…The old guard is fading out; it is for the new to take it on.”

(The author is Reader, Department of Economics, Pondicherry University, Puducherry.)

Published on November 30, 2011

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